Commissioners Pass Resolution on Drought, Common Core


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Doug Dowler, Executive Director of SCEDD, Southern Colorado Economic Development District, spoke about a three county regional economic assessment that will be conducted this fall.  Dowler was meeting with the Prowers County Commissioners, Thursday, April 24.  “We’re going to assess the economic strengths and weaknesses of the assets found in Prowers, Kiowa and Baca Counties,” he explained.  The community wide survey will be predicated on needed grant funding.  Dowler mentioned several business loans that have gone through his office in the past several months, including two for Prowers County; one for expansion of an existing business and another regarding a purchase.  He was accompanied in his visit by Lance Benninghoff, Executive Director for Prowers County Development Incorporated.  Benninghoff stated that he has seen a number of loan increases from the SCEDD offices in the past several months. 

Kirk Powers, County Building Operations Supervisor, discussed a plan to help preserve several of the county’s antique wagons which are kept outdoors.  Powers said the most economical option will be to purchase about 15 gallons of a weatherization preservative chemical which will be sprayed on the wagons this spring.  The majority of the wagons are on display at the new edition of the Big Timbers Museum while some are stored inside at the Prowers County Fairgrounds and a few are kept outdoors. 

Focusing on several action items on the meeting agenda, the commissioners ratified earlier approval of a letter seeking support from State Representative Tim Dore and State Senator Larry Crowder, regarding support of House Bill 14-1375.  The Urban Development Fairness Act will modify some provisions regarding urban redevelopment issues in the state and in Prowers County, including county representation on the Urban Redevelopment Board and a commitment of city sales tax revenues in order to make use of property tax revenues to develop urban renewal plans. 

The commissioners approved a resolution appointing members to the board of directors of the Holly Ambulance and Fire District.  They are: Viola Melcher, Thomas Wagner, Dale Seufer, Dale Simmons and Robert Fletcher.  A receipt for $5,000 was made out to Brad Semmens to certify his donation of an electronic sign to the county to be used to help advertise events in Prowers County.  Plans call for the sign to be erected at the County Annex at South Main and East Cedar Streets. 

The drought continues to impact southeast Colorado.  The commissioners approved a resolution to declare a Drought Disaster in Prowers County due to the economic impact affecting farmers, ranchers, and businesses in general in the county.  The resolution opens the door for those businesses to become eligible for available disaster relief in light of extreme drought conditions.  On that same note, the resolution was sent to Governor Hickenlooper informing his office of the county’s declaration. 

In an effort to maintain service for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief railway line, the commissioners pledged $10,000 in support of the TIGER VI refurbishment application to the USDOT.  Prowers County is one of several in Colorado and Kansas which could see the route taken away in light of growing costs of repairs to the rail line through La Junta, Lamar and Garden City, KS.  The grant being sought will help pay the refurbishment costs to permit the route remain active for Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico.  The grant will help service about 50 miles of track and set the stage for future economic support. 

The commissioners approved a resolution to the state legislature calling for the elimination of the ‘negative factor’ in K-12 education funding.  The resolution explains that in the fiscal year 2010-2011, the legislature added a negative factor to make across the board cuts to education spending.  The commissioners contend that these equal percentage cuts do not take the losses felt more heavily by smaller school districts.  It also states that the negative factor reduces funds paid to each student in Colorado by $2,500 a year, compared to the national average in per-pupil funding, amounting to $1 billion from the state’s support for public education in 2013-2014 and a loss of $8,996,146 for 2011-2014 to school districts in Prowers County.  On another education note, the commissioners voted for a resolution concerning state consent for federal intrusion into state educational and teaching policies.  They urge a delay in continuing to implement what is generally termed ‘Common core’ teaching practices throughout the state.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: AgricultureBusinessCityCommissionerscommunityCountyEconomyEducationFeaturedPoliticsProwers CountySchoolYouth


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